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Ovarian cancer symptoms

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise, particularly in the early stages of the disease. They are often the same as the symptoms of other, less serious, conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, the most common symptoms that may indicate ovarian cancer are:

  • abdominal bloating or feeling full
  • abdominal or back pain
  • appetite loss or feeling full quickly
  • changes in toilet habits
  • unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • indigestion or heartburn
  • fatigue.

If any of these symptoms are unusual for you, and they persist, it's important to see your doctor.

Other symptoms, such as back pain and needing to pass urine more urgently and frequently than normal, may be the result of other conditions in the pelvic area. They are probably not ovarian cancer, but may be present in some women with the disease.

If you have any of these symptoms, keep a symptom diary to see how many of these symptoms you have over a longer period. Bear in mind that ovarian cancer is rare in women under 40 years of age. If you regularly have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. It's unlikely that they are being caused by a serious problem, but it's best to be checked.

If you've already seen your doctor and the symptoms continue or get worse, it is important to go back and explain this, as you know your body better than anyone.

Source: Cancer Australia (What causes ovarian Cancer), NHS Choices, UK (Ovarian Cancer)

Last reviewed: August 2015

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